Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Talked Myself into a Chromebook



It's been a little over a week now since I purchased my first Chromebook, the Acer C7. Yes, it is the $199 model. Money doesn't grow on trees you know.

Here were my thoughts on trying out this whole Chrome OS thing. I had read everything I could find, trying to decide if this was just a toy or something I could really use. I heard all of the typical complaints.

"You can't use it offline."
"You can't install any programs on it."
"Why would you spend the money on something that doesn't do everything you need it to do?"

You still have your old computer, right?

Some of these are valid points. While most of what I do is on the web, there are a few things I use a windows laptop for. My budget software being the most important. I've written about YNAB (You Need A Budget) before and I'm still a user. This software is nice because it installs on a PC and can also be accessed by an Android or ios app. Everything can be done through the app except the actual placing of money in the individual budgeting categories. So this wasn't as big of a problem after all. Once a week or so I just have to log in to my other computer or use Chrome Remote to access it through my Chromebook.

The next biggest program I was worried about, was my Calibre ebook library. This is a must have program for ebook readers. Unfortunately, this is another case of having to depend on a traditional computer, but the problem is minimized by having the calibre library synced with a folder in my box account. I can still access my ebook file online.

I still have the old laptop, so these problems aren't really problems after all.


Spend $199 for a Nexus 7 or a Chromebook

Now the biggest complaint. "Why would you spend all that money on a limited function device?" I thought about this one. If I was going to spend $199 on any other tech device, what would it be? Without a doubt, I would get a Nexus 7. That is one sweet two hundred dollar tablet, but can it do everything? As awesome as it is, there are some things that either aren't possible or not practical to do on a tablet. The same goes for my phone. My Galaxy S2 Skyrocket is handy, but it's not a laptop.

So I came to the realization that, most of the tech we own today is limited in function. If I was wanting to get a Nexus 7 for $199, then how can a Chromebook at the same price be wrong?


No regrets

So far I'm impressed. The Acer Chromebook has turned out to be very nice. It boots up fast and I can get at it right away. I hated starting up the windows 7 laptop. I would often turn it on, login, and then go do something else till it finished loading and starting everything.

I have been using the Chrome browser for years, so it wasn't that much of a stretch moving to Chrome OS. I just get online and get to work. When I logged in for the first time it immediately synced all of my bookmarks and passwords. The whole system is simple and just disappears into the background.

Another welcomed change from windows, is that security is built in. No more messing around with cpu hogging anti-virus software. Updates are easier as well. They download in the background and install on the next reboot. All of this means, that I can spend more time working and less time managing my computer.


The Hardware

I was worried about the build quality of a two hundred dollar laptop. You get what you pay for, right? Well, it turns out that two hundred dollars looks pretty good. The machine on a whole feels solid. The keyboard and the buttonless touchpad are responsive. The one area that I read the most complaints about was the screen. There were concerns about viewing angles and washed out colors. Now, granted I've never owned any top of the line computers, but I find the screen to be quite nice. I think those that review every new thing have a much higher standard than the average Joe. I don't know if I meet the requirements of average, but I like this Acer a lot.

Conclusion

I'm happy with my decision. Is the Chromebook right for you? It honestly depends on what you plan on doing. Moving to the cloud sounds scary, but more than likely you are already spending most of your time there as it is now. When was the last time you used a computer offline? How often does the need arise? For most people I think a Chromebook would be an excellent choice. The only exceptions would be if you absolutely had to use windows programs as part of your job or school, though there are many alternatives and workarounds for most any situation.

So have I talked you into it? I would love to hear your thoughts below!


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